Crisp fall days mean early sunsets, especially after we "fall back" to Pacific Standard Time this Sunday, November 3. And early sunsets mean more people out biking and walking after dark.
At the City of Salem, we're always working to improve the safety of streets, sidewalks, and crossings for biking and walking residents and visitors. Check out these ongoing efforts at
Building a More Bikable, Walkable Salem.
Be safe on your feet
If you are out after dark, be sure to follow these walking safety tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
- Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact as they approach to make sure you are seen.
- Be predictable. Follow the rules of the roads and obey signs and signals.
- Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
- If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
- Keep alert at all times; don't be distracted by electronics that take your eyes and ears off the road.
- Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections, where drivers expect pedestrians.
- If a crosswalk or intersection isn't available, cross at a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to dross safely; continue watching for traffic as you cross.
- Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways, or backing up in parking lots.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs while walk; they impair abilities and judgment.
Be safe on two wheels
Bicyclists are also at greater risk in the dark. According to the National High Traffic Safety Administration, cyclist deaths occur most often between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
At the same time, drivers should keep an eye out for pedestrians at all times. Safety is a shared responsibility. Always follow traffic laws and use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as darkness or bad weather.
Follow these tips to reduce your risk:
- Remember, when riding on the roadway, you are required to follow the same rules and regulations as motorists.
- Ride a bike that works – including its brakes.
- Use protective and visibility equipment: helmet, bright and reflective clothing, a white front light, red rear light and reflectors.
- Tuck and tie your shoe laces and pant legs so they don't get caught in your bike chain.
- Plan your route to include roads with less traffic and slower speeds – or preferably away from roads altogether.
Be safe behind the wheel
More and more, our city streets are multi-purpose spaces, serving the needs of cars, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles. That means it is vital for drivers behind the wheel to pay attention to their surroundings.
Follow these driving safety tips:
- Look out for pedestrians and cyclists everywhere, at all times.
- Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or bad weather.
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
- Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the crosswalk so other vehicles can see the crossing pedestrians and stop, too.
- Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can't see.
- Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where children are present.
- Be extra cautious when backing up – pedestrians and cyclists can move into your path.